By Jeanne Atkinson, Senior Consultant

This happens all too frequently (at least to me): The end of a typically crazy day finally comes, and the only thing you’re looking forward to is going to sleep, sweet, sweet sleep.


You’ve locked the doors, turned down the thermostat, checked on the kids (if you have any), walked the dog (if you have one) and turned off the lights. On nights like this, you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.

And then, the next thing you know, you’re eyes are wide open and you’re wide-awake, staring into darkness. Afraid to look at the clock, you think, “Oh, no. Not again.”

You push that thought away and immediately settle on obsessing about Client X.  The mental checklist starts to unfold, as you ask yourself:

·      Did I remember to email the media list, including social media?

·      Did I do a final spell check on the talking points?

·      Did I tell her the correct time for the meeting with the editorial board?

·      Will enough people be at the event?

·      Will enough media be at the event?

·      Did I hit “reply” or “reply all.” 

Now, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is not an unusual nighttime scenario for those of us in professional services.  After all, our clients rely on us for strategic counsel, subject expertise, factual accuracy and the ability to meet tight deadlines.  We have very little room for error.

I’m going to go out even further on that limb and say that the stakes can be even higher for those of us in public relations, because, after all, much of the work we do for our clients ends up in newspapers, on television, in blogs, and on Twitter and Facebook by design. Literally, it is for all the world to see.

Stressful? To be sure. But I also believe that the most successful public relations professionals tend to be those whose natural personalities can be, well, obsessive.  And, we tend not to discriminate too much between the big errors and the small errors.  Misspelling a client’s name? Big. Getting a fact wrong about a client’s company? Big.  Using the % sign instead of spelling out percent in the body of a paragraph? Well, not as big, but it does come back to annoy during that sleepless night. 

Regardless of who the client is, we should be losing some sleep over them. We should sweat the small stuff, along with the big. It’s part of what we do, so they don’t have to.